So how over the coverage of the Tiger Woods DUI are you?
Yeah, me too.
IT’S. ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.
I get it. When the story broke, the NBA Finals hadn’t started, nobody really cares about football OTAs, and hockey… well, c’mon! It’s a really slow sports news cycle. ESPN needs to run something, and Tiger news is better than more Lavar Ball.
Side note: I can’t stand that guy. Lavar Ball. Sheesh!
But the news networks aired the story. The talking heads went to work pontificating about the downfall of Woods. The mug shot was released. Then the dashcam footage came out. And we consumed it all. Every ounce until we were sick of the story. Like a toddler who’s hidden the bag of gummy bears in their room, and instead of going to sleep, they’re gorging on that sugary treat. Everything seems great until they throw up in their bed later that night.
I really enjoy golfing. I don’t get to go that often, and I’m not very good. In fact, I’m below average (USGA says a score of about 90 is average). Still, I love getting out there and doing my best. One great shot per round is all it takes to keep you coming back for more. If you’ve ever been golfing, you know the feeling.
Of course, you also know the feeling of hitting an absolutely terrible shot. The one that only goes about 15 yards or lands right in the middle of the blue fairway… also known as water.
And that’s when you take another ball, throw it down, swing… and hit the most beautiful shot you’ve ever seen. It’d be great if only it counted. My pastor used to often joke about writing a book titled, “How to Hit Your Second Shot First.” He may be on to something. Second shots seem to be so much easier, and often so much better. Wouldn’t you like to have a few second shots?
In golf, it’s called a mulligan. But life doesn’t really come with mulligans. Every shot counts. Second shots don’t really exist, and second chances are rare.
In life that is. But grace… grace is a different story.
Now, before I go on, I’m not saying grace is a mulligan. It doesn’t erase your first shot. You’re not Marty McFly. Grace is not the DeLorean. The first shot happened. You can’t change it, and there’s no use denying it.
So then, what is grace? Grace is that ridiculous opportunity, given by God, to throw down another ball and hit the shot again like it matters, because it does. Grace doesn’t remove the past; grace transforms the past. It takes all those missed shots, bad hits, and downright whiffs and somehow makes something great out of it. I can’t explain it, but I’ve experienced it. And in a way, that’s even more powerful.
Which brings us back to Tiger Woods and the general way we obsess over the downfall of superstars. Why do we love watching these people fall? Do we get some kind of gratification from it? Does it make us feel better about our own issues, as if shining the light on their failings dims the light on our own?
And Christians, we’re just as guilty! We give up on people who fall all the time. We may not blatantly ask them to leave our churches, but we’re masters of subtle communication – the looks, stares, whispers when they enter the room. It’s like we want them to feel uncomfortable. What’s that about? Shouldn’t the people who have experienced the ridiculous grace of God be quick to give that same grace to others?
It reminds me of the story of the woman caught in the act of adultery. She was caught… in the act… of adultery… Talk about a time you’d like to use a mulligan! (Side note: who are these creepers peeping in the window to catch her?) The crowd, hurling accusations, throws her at the feet of Jesus. He kneels down, writes something in the sand, and shows us exactly what grace looks like. He says a few words and the crowd leaves. Then He looks at her in a way only Jesus can look at a person, seeing her and seeing into her simultaneously. He speaks, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more.”
Here’s the question – when people fall, are we standing with the crowd or are we kneeling with Jesus? Do we consume all the juicy details of their sin or do we show them how God is giving them a chance to hit that second shot first? Every failure by those in our churches is our opportunity to demonstrate the same grace that has transformed our lives.
What if church became synonymous for second shots and second chances? Not a place of accusations, gossip, and throwing rocks… but a community of people willing to kneel down with the fallen, hand them a second chance, and cheer as they take another swing in life.
You don’t deserve it. Neither do I. Neither does Tiger.
And that’s the ridiculousness of grace.